Austin Cindric repeats Cup practice sub role, fills in for Michael McDowell during Roval practice

by Justin Nguyen

Austin Cindric might not have any starts in the Monster Energy Cup Series, but he is build up his experience in a premier series car. On Friday, he drove the #34 Ford Mustang of Front Row Motorsports duingring practice for the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in place of Michael McDowell.

McDowell, who is currently twenty-eighth in points and finished eighteenth in the inaugural Roval 400 in 2018, visited the infield care center and a local hospital to treat what turned out to be a kidney stone. However, he was able to return to the track in time for qualifying later in the day. In his place, Cindric finished twenty-fourth in practice with a lap time of 83.479 seconds, 2.51 seconds behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

This substitute role is not Cindric’s first. In February, the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular filled in for Team Penske‘s Brad Keselowski in the #2 Ford during final practice for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway while Keselowski was dealing with the flu. The #2 finished that practice with the twenty-eighth-fastest time. Incidentally, Keselowski would go on to win that race.

Although Cindric has no Cup starts to his name, the decision to have him serve as interim driver for the Roval is a reasonable choice. In August, Cindric scored his first career Xfinity victories in back-to-back races on road courses at Watkins Glen International and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, followed by a runner-up finish at Road America. During his tenure in the NASCAR Truck Series, he recorded his lone series win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

After completing his Cup run, Cindric returned to his usual post in Team Penske’s Xfinity stable for the series’ companion race practice. He was the second-fastest in Xfinity practice at 84.536, .047 behind Christopher Bell. Cindric is currently fourth in Xfinity points.

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